John Ruskin.

The works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) online

. (page 36 of 74)
Online LibraryJohn RuskinThe works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) → online text (page 36 of 74)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

come to lunch at two. Just received your note. I shall be of course
delighted to see your sister. 5 Please bring out my pencil " Passover."
You don't want it while you are at work on the others.

1 [The drawing commissioned in October 1854 : see above, p. 199.]
' From Ruskin, Roxsetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 93-94.]

3 For a note of Leigh ton's visit, see Vol. V. p. xlv.]

4 [By c: the ladies in Purgatory " Ruskin means the water-colour of ' ' Leah and
Rachel/' from Dante's Purgutorio (see above, p. 200), in the background of which
a buttercup meadow is shown.]

5 [Maria Francesca Rossetti (1827-1876), author of A Shadow of Dante.}



222 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss

To W. J. STILLMAN 1

October 15, 1855.

DEAR MR. STILLMAN, . . . Your first question, " What do we learn
from pictures?" I have a long special chapter on, in the third volume
of Modern Painters, headed "Of the Use of Pictures." 2 It is really
too wide a question to be otherwise answered; but, surely, what I
wrote about the function of the artist 3 involves an answer to this also.

"What is the distinction between Pre-Raphaelitism and such art
as that of Wilkie and Mulready?" None, so far as Wilkie and
Mulready ARE sincere, but neither of them is so more than half.
Wilkie is wholly false and conventional in colour; Mulready usually
so in arrangement and sentiment ; a great imitator also of Dutch pic-
tures, in his early works. I am wrong in saying None also in this
respect: Pre-Raphaelitism being natural with heroic and pathetic sub-
jects of the highest order, which neither Wilkie nor Mulready ever
dared to attempt. So, in few words, Wilkie and Mulready are only
half sincere or natural, and that only in familiar subject; the Pre-
Raphaelites are wholly sincere and natural, and in heroic subject.
Dante Rossetti is at this moment painting a Holy Family with the
most exquisite naturalism. 4

I am delighted with all your criticism in Tlie Crayon. It is full
of sense and justice I mean by yours, the editorial. The other matter
is also very interesting and good. I think you should be well pleased
with your London contributor. 5 Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.

\

To CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 6

DKNMARK HILL, 31 October, 1855.

MY DEAR SIR, On Friday, Monday, or Tuesday next, I should be
most happy to see you at any hour after one, and before four. I
do not know what work I may have to do, and I may not be able to
have more than a little chat. But the pictures should be at your
command. Very truly yours, J. RUSKIX.

1 [Editor of The Crayon. The letter is reprinted from that journal, November
185.5, vol. ii. p. 310.]

= [.See Vol. V. pp. 1(59-191.]

3 See above, p. ^13.]

The "Passover": see above, p. 199 ;?.]
'\\'. M. Ilossetti : see above, p. 188.]

* [Atlantic Monthly, May 1904, vol. 93, p. 577. No. 1 in the collected tetters of
John Kuxkin to Charles Eliot Norton, in two volumes, Boston and New York, 1904.
This book is hereafter referred to as Norton. This is the first of Kuskin's letters
to Charles Eliot Norton, for whom, see the Introduction ; above, p. xcii.]



1855] AN ARTIST'S EDUCATION 223

To a CORRESPONDENT 1 P 1855 1

Do not send your son to Mr. Leigh's : his school is wholly inefficient.
Your son should go through the usual course of instruction given at
the Royal Academy, which, with a good deal that is wrong, gives
something that is necessary and right, and which cannot be otherwise
obtained. Mr. Rossetti and I will take care (in fact your son's judg-
ment is, I believe, formed enough to enable him to take care himself)
that he gets no mistaken bias in those schools. A " studio " is not
necessary for him but a little room with a cupboard in it and a
chair and nothing else is. I am very sanguine respecting him. I
like both his face and his work.

Thank you for telling me that about my books. I am happy in
seeing much more of the springing of the green than most sowers of
seed are allowed to see, until very late in their lives but it is always
a great help to me to hear of any. For I never write with pleasure
to myself nor with purpose of getting praise to myself I hate writing
and know that what I do does not deserve high praise, as literature;
but I write to tell truths which I can't help crying out about and
I do enjoy being believed and being of use.

I am much vexed with myself for not having written this letter
sooner. There were several things I wanted to say respecting the
need of perseverance in painting as well as in other businesses which
it would take me too long to say in the time I have at com-
mand so I must just answer the main question. Your son has very
singular gifts for painting. I think the work he has done at the
College nearly the most promising of any that has yet been done
there, and I sincerely trust the apparent want of perseverance has
hitherto been only the disgust of a creature of strong instincts who
has not got into its own element. He seems to me a fine fellow
and I hope you will be very proud of him some day but I very
seriously think you must let him have his bent in this matter, and
then, if he does not work steadily, take him to task to purpose. I
think the whole gist of education is to let the boy take his own
shape and element, and then to help, discipline, and urge him in
that, but not to force him on work entirely painful to him.

1 [This and the following letter were printed in the British Weekly, December
20, 1906, with the following note : " A distinguished writer has very kindly placed
at my disposal two letters written by Ruskin to his father about his brother some
five-and-forty years ago. This brother died young. He was a gifted artist, and
a pupil of Rossetti's at the Working Men's College. I make extracts from the
letters. It will be seen that they illustrate Ruskin's great generosity, and also his
honourable ambition." " Five-and-forty years ago" would make the date 1801, but
it is probably earlier, as Ruskin was little at the College in 1861.]



224 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1855

To COVENTRY PATMORE*

[1855?]

DEAR PATMOHK, ... I have just bought Turner's "Salisbury" 8
which I am specially glad to have, because I look upon " Salisbury "
now as classic ground. 8 With best regards to Mrs. Patmore, most
truly yours, J. RI-SKIN.

I am more and more pleased with the Angel. You have neither
the lusciousness nor the sublimity of Tennyson, but you have clearer
and finer habitual expressions and more accurate thought. For finish
and neatness I know nothing equal to bits of the Angel:

"As grass grows taller round a stone,"
"As moon between her lighted clouds," 4

and such other lines. Tennyson is often quite sinfully hazy.

To DAXTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 5

[DENMARK HILL. ? Summer 1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, I think you and your pupil have judged very
wisely in this matter, and I will so arrange it with Woodward, and
let you know his ideas as soon as may be. c I am delighted with the
sketch. Many thanks for explanation about Dante and Beatrice. 7 Is it
not very curious that there should be no mention of her marriage in
the Vita? Do you know, I cannot help suspecting the antiquaries are
wrong in her identification, and that she never was married. 8 I under-
stand every feeling expressed in the Vita Nuova but this calmness

[From the Memoir and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore, vol. ii. p. 271*.]

2 [See Vol. XIII. pp. 440, 604.]

3 I As being the scene of "'Hie Betrothal" in The Anyel in the House.'}

4 [The former line is from Canto ix. Prelude i. (where the emblem is of neglect
provoking intenser tenderness) ; the latter line ("Sweet moon . . .") is from Cauto in.
(" Honoria").]

5 [From Runkin, I'ossrtti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, p. 08.]

9 [Rossetti and Miss Siddal were to make some designs for Woodward's use on
the Oxford Museum : see Vol. XVI. p. xliv.]

[With reference probably to llossetti's drawing of " Beatrice denying her Salu-
tation": see below, p. :>.'55.]

8 ["The view which Ruskin here expresses about Beatrice is one that has obtained
no little currency of late years, viz., that there really was a Beatrice whom Dante
loved, but that she was not the same person as Beatrice Portinari, who eventually
married Simon de' Bardi " (W. M. II.).]



1855] AN INVITATION TO WALES 225

of silence on the supposition of her marriage, nor do I quite under-
stand his continued worship being so absolute the image of her being
in no wise dethroned by her marriage, but put in heaven as high as
ever. What do you feel about this? Always yours,

J. RUSKIN.

I like the translation exceedingly. 1 I come on Tuesday if fine.
Best regards to your brother.



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 2

[DENMARK HILL, 1855 ? October.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, If I were to find funds, could you be ready on
Wednesday morning to take a run into Wales, and make me a sketch
of some rocks in the bed of a stream, with trees above, mountain ashes,
and so on, scarlet in autumn tints? If you are later than Wednesday,
you will be too late ; but if you can go on Wednesday, let me know
by return of post, or by bearer. I will send funds. I want you to
go to Pont-y-Monach, 3 near Aberystwith, and choose a subject there-
abouts. I shall be very much obliged to you if you will do this for
me. Most truly yours, J. RUSKIN.



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 4

[1855 ?]

DEAR ROSSETTI, I never should think of your sitting out to paint
from Nature. Merely look at the place ; make memoranda fast, work
at home at the inn, and walk among the hills. Take the " Passover "
with you, and finish it there you would do it better and quicker
and leave the "Dante" 5 with me till you come back. If you can do
this, 1 think your health will be bettered, and I shall be bettered by
having the drawing; but if you would not like to do it, do not do
it for fear of hurting 1 me, as I don't set my heart on this. Do it, if

1 [Presumably Rossetti's translation of the Vita Nuova.]

2 From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 103-104.]

3 [A place of early associations to Ruskiu : see Prceterita, Vol. XXXV. pp. 95,
300.]

4 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 104-105. An extract from
the letter was printed in the Catalogue of William Brown, of Edinburgh, Xo. 162,
1906.]

5 [Probably the " Beatrice denying her Salutation."]

XXXVI. P



226 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [1855

you can pleasantly to yourself not otherwise. I think you would win
time and health by it. Yours always, J. R.

Living will be cheap at hotel, Pont-y-Monach, at present. If you
can do it, be ready, at any rate, by Thursday a bit of paper fastened
on a board is all you can possibly want. Send me word to-morrow if
you go, and I will send funds for Thursday.

To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI :

[1855 ?]

DEAR ROSSETTI, You are a very odd creature, that's a fact. I
said I would find funds for you to go into Wales to draw something
I wanted. I never said I would for you to go to Paris, to disturb
yourself and other people, and I won't.

To-morrow (D. V.) I will bring you Ida's money, about half-past
two to four ; please therefore be in ; and meantime you can ask at
some of the money-changers' in Leicester Square what is the best
form to send money in. I always do it through bankers and I can't
do this so, for I don't choose to be heard of as sending to Paris in
the matter, and I won't write to Browning about it for my entire
approval of the journey to Paris was because I thought she was to

make friends of the Brownings directly. What the had she to

do in Paris but for that?

If you like to write to Browning and to manage it, you can but
I won't. I am ill-tempered to-day you are such absurd creatures
both of you. I don't say you do wrong, because you don't seem to
know what is wrong, but just to do whatever you like as far as possible
as puppies and tomtits do. However, as it is so, I must think for
you and first, I can't have you going to Paris, nor going near Ida,
till you have finished those drawings, and Miss Heaton's too. You
can't do anything now but indoors, and the less you excite Ida the
better. Positively if you go to Paris I will. But you won't go, I am
sure, when you know I seriously don't think it right. I will advance
you what you want on this drawing, but only on condition it goes
straight on. Most truly yours, J. Rrsnix.

You can get French notes for small sums at the money-changers',
and send one at a time to be sure they go safe it is the best way
and tell Ida she must go south directly. Paris will kill her, or ruin
her like Sir J. Paul's Bank. 2

1 [From Ruskin, Jfasxelti, and Pre-Raphaelitium, pp. 105-107. ]

1 [Sir John Dean Paul, liart., 1802-1JW8, of the hanking' firm of William Strahan,

Paul and Bates, which suspended payment in 1855 : see the Dictionary of National

Biography.]



1855] ROSSETTI'S "PASSOVER" 227

To DANTE GABRIEL RossErri 1

[DENMARK HILL. ? October 1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, I have been mighty poorly. Nothing serious
but bed, feverish nights, toast and water, and physic. Coming to
scratch again gradually. Please oblige me in two matters or you will
make me ill again. Take all the pure green out of the flesh in the
" Nativity " 2 I send, and try to get it a little less like worsted- work by
Wednesday, when I will send for it. I want the Archdeacon of Salop, 3
who is coming for some practical talk over religious art for the multi-
tude, to see it; and with it I want the "Passover" in such state as
it may be in, and the sketch of "Passover." These two last I wish
you could let me have either by bearer to-day or to-morrow, as I
want to be sure of them ; the other I will send for early on Wednesday
morning.

I send half of Ida's money, and the other half on Wednesday. I
daresay you want some yourself, poor fellow, but I can't help you just
now for a little bit. I have much on my hands. If you would but
do the things I want it would be much easier : that " Matilda " I
commissioned ages ago I could buy, 4 because I have a reason to give,
but the Monk illuminating 5 I can't. But I hope I shall be of use
to you if you let me have those things.

Nice letter from Ida at last. Ever affectionately yours,

J. R.



[DENMARK HILL. ? October 1855.]

DEAR R., I have had a sharp relapse, though I am downstairs at
last, and was too late up, after a feverish night, to send for drawing
as I intended ; and the " Passover " does me so much good that espe-
cially as the Archdeacon hasn't come yet I am going to keep it till

1 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 107-108.]

2 [The process satisfied Ruskiu : see a letter (numbered 34) in Vol. XXXVII.
p. 697. The drawing is No. 50 in H. C. Marillier's Catalogue ; the present owner
is unknown.]

3 [The Rev. William Waring.]
* [See above, p. 200 n.]

5 [The water-colour called " Fra Pace " in the collections, successively, of
William Morris, William Graham, and Mrs. Jekyll. There is a reproduction of it
at p. 72 of H. C. Marillier's D. G. Rossetti.}

6 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 109, 110. "The reference
to Ida and Rossetti's 'fine feeling' suggests that Miss Siddal, seconded by my
brother, had made some move towards relieving Ruskin from the payment of his
allowance to her, now that her ill-health and absence from England prevented
her giving any equivalent for it" (W. M. R.).]



228 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [isss

I am better, and so you needn't send for it nor come, for I am just
able to hold pen, and that's all, and I won't hear reason. You can
make your study from model separate. I send a tracing of figure
and the Monk back : very ingenious and wonderful, but not my sort
of drawing.

You and Ida are a couple of never mind but you know it's

all your own pride not a bit of fine feeling, so don't think it. If
you wanted to oblige me, you would keep your room in order and
go to bed at night. All your fine speeches go for nothing till you
do that. Archdeacon just come. J. R.



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI l

[?1855.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, You are quite right in all you say, only I extend
my notions of my deservings to such a conceited extent as to plead
not only for myself but for my friends. That is to say, Miss Heaton
and other people, when they put themselves into my hands and say
"What pictures shall I buy?" ought, I think, not to be treated as
strangers, but as in a sort my clients and proteges. And although
Miss Heaton never heard of the " Beatrice," 2 remember, it was begun for
her, and, when I saw it was to be good, I took it for myself. Unless
I had told her plainly this trick of mine, I could not have slept with
a peaceful conscience ; and, having played her this trick, I am bound
not to let her pay as much for a drawing she will not like so well,
which I think I do in fairness to you by raising my own payment.
Indeed, I think your drawings worth twenty times what you ask for
them, and yet you must consider market value in all things, and a
painful and sad-coloured subject never fetches so much, on the average,
as a pleasant and gay one.

I forgot; remember, in market, oil fetches always about six or
seven times as much as water-colour. Very foolish it is, but so
it is.

I have just got enclosed from Miss H[eaton]. You see how kind
she is to us both. Now I really must have both the drawings sent
down to her for her to choose. This is not on refusal. For, first,
consider both mine. Now I have certainly a right to sell them again,
and to offer whom I choose choice of them.

So I write to Miss II[eaton] she shall see both, and before / see

1 ri'Voni Itnskin, Rnssvtti, and Pre-Raphaelitism, pp. 51MJ1.]

s ["Beatrice at a Marriage Feast denying her Salutation to Dante": see l>elo\v,
p. 2.'W.]



1855] FAVOURITE DRAWINGS 229

the new one; so please send it down to her, 31 Park Square, Leeds,
immediately, and I will send my Dolls. 1 Ever most affectionately
yours, J. RUSKIN.

You must not be vexed if she chooses the new one. It may do
you credit at Leeds. . . .



To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 2

[P1855.]

DEAR R., I have written to Miss H[eaton] giving accurate account
of all our proceedings, and how I have pounced upon the " Beatrice,"
which should have been hers, offering her either "Rachel" at 25, or
" Francesca " 3 at 35 guineas. You must not make her pay more than
I do. If she does not take it, I will give 35 for it. So instead of
chance between 40 and 30, you have sure 35. Truly yours,

J. RUSKIN.

To Miss ELLEN HEATON

[November 11, 1855.]

DEAR Miss HEATON, You are truly a good and kind lady, and
you shall have both drawings down to choose from immediately.
I will send mine on Monday, and R. will send his the moment it
is finished. The Guinevere and Launcelot 4 is not my pet drawing,
though Mr. Browning could not say too much of it it is one of my
imperfect ones the Launcelot is so funnily bent under his shield, and
Arthur points his toes so over the tomb, that I dare not show it to
Anti-Pre-Raphaelites, but I value it intensely myself.

The pet drawing is Beatrice cutting Dante at the Ball and Dante
just going to faint. I assure you I shall always consider it as your
gift to me. Most truly and gratefully yours, J. RUSKIN.

1 [Mr. W. M. Rossetti interprets this as meaning that D. G. Rossetti was to
send the "Paolo and Francesca" and lluskin would send the "Leah and Rachel/'
a drawing jocularly called "The Dolls" by himself and the artist. The letter
of November 11 to Miss Heaton suggests, however, that the drawing which Ruskiu
sent was "Arthur's Tomb."]

2 [From Ruskin, Rossetti, and Pre-Raphaclitism, p. 61.]

3 [The " Paolo and Fraucesca da Rimini/' a diptych. From Ruskin's posses-
sion it passed successively into that of William Morris and Mr. George Rae.]

4 [" Arthur's Tomb : the last meeting of Launcelot and Guinevere " (reproduced
at p. 60 of Mr. Marillier's Rossetti). Ruskin afterwards gave it away, because he
complained that in the course of some retouching Rossetti had " scratched out the
eyes" (below, p. 489). The drawing now belongs to Mr. S. Pepys Cockerell. Miss
Heaton selected the " Leah and Rachel."]



230 LETTERS OF RUSKIN VOL. I [IBS*

To DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI l

[1855, Autumn.]

DEAR ROSSETTI, I am a good deal puzzled about this matter in
various ways, partly likes of my own, partly respects for proper dealing
with Miss Heaton, partly desire to manage well for you. The best
I can do at present is to send you a cheque for .20. I have made
it payable to Crawley, who will get it for you, if you like, at once
and please finish the new picture as well as you can, and then we will
see, and at the eleventh hour I am going to put off my lesson of
to-morrow, for I find my eyes to-day quite tired with an etching I
expected to have finished and haven't ; but as you have that drawing
to finish you will still be kept in town now, so I may have my lesson
when this nasty etching is done. Please apologise to William very
heartily for this rudeness, but I shall enjoy you both so much more
when this thing is off my mind. Last sheet to press on Monday-
etching I hope finished on Tuesday or Wednesday. Shall we still say
Saturday next for our lesson, and the weather will be better? Always
affectionately yours, J. RUSKIN.

To ALFRED TENNYSON 2

DENMARK HILL, 12th November, 1855.

MY DEAR SIR, I hear of so many stupid and feelingless misunder-
standings of " Maud " that I think it may perhaps give you some
little pleasure to know my sincere admiration of it throughout.

I do not like its versification so well as much of your other work,
not because I do not think it good of its kind, but because I do not
think that wild kind quite so good, and I am sorry to have another
cloud put into the sky of one's thoughts by the sad story, but as to
the general bearing and delicate finish of the thing in its way, I think
no admiration can be extravagant.

1 [Part of this letter ("At the eleventh hour ... is done") was printed in
J>unte dabricl Rossetti : his Family Letters, with a Memoir, by W. M. Rossetti, 18!)5,
vol. i. pp. 182-183, where it is explained that the "lesson" means "a little friendly
instruction, pretty frequently repeated, which, at Kuskin's request, Rossetti gave
him in the use of water-colour. 1 think the instruction extended not much
beyond the attendance of Ruskin at times when my brother was in the act of
painting, with question and answer as to the why and wherefore of his modes of
work." The letter was dated by Mr. \V. M. Rossetti "18.55, Summer"; but it was
probably written later in the year (or early in 185(5), as the forthcoming " book "
and the "etching" must refer to Mode.ni Painters, vol. iv. (issued April 18ot>).]

1 ^Alfred Lord Tf.nnji.wn: a Memoir Inj his Son, 1B!>7, vol. i. p. 411.1



1856] TENNYSON'S "LIGHT BRIGADE" 231

It is a compliment to myself, not to you, if I say that I think
with you in all things about the war.

I am very sorry you put the " Some one had blundered " out of
the " Light Brigade." x It was precisely the most tragical line in the
poem. It is as true to its history as essential to its tragedy. Believe
me sincerely yours, J. RUSKIN.



1856

[The third volume of Modem Painters was published on January 15, and the
fourth on April 14. Ruskin's classes at the Working Men's College continued, and
he gave some lectures (Vol. XIII. p. xxxi.). He passed the Harbours of England
for press ; wrote his Academy Notes, and then went abroad with his parents in
May, returning home at the end of September (Vol. VII. p. xx.). He was then
absorbed in arranging the Turner water-colours at the National Gallery (Vol. XIII.
pp. xxxi. seq.).']

To Miss ELIZABETH ELEANOR SIDDAL 2

DENMARK HILL, 27 January, 1856.

DEAR IDA, I was heartily glad to hear from you, though I am
never angry when people don't write, for I know what a troublesome
thing it is to do ; one can never do it but when one is tolerably well,
and then one always wants to be doing something else. I am par-
ticularly pleased by hearing of your walks "over the mountains," as
the mountains near Nice are real ones, and not to be walked over
without some strength. I trust now you will do well. I am rejoiced
also at your entirely agreeing with me about the vapid colour of that
Southern scenery. I hate it myself. The whole coast of Genoa, with
its blue sea, hills, and white houses, looks to me like a bunch of blue
ribands dipped in mud and then splashed all over with lime. I
except always Mentone, which has fine green and purple, and has a
unique kind of glen behind it among the lemons. But as soon as
spring comes you must <^et up among the Alps ; it will brace you and
revive you ; and there the colour is insuperable. Even very early in



Online LibraryJohn RuskinThe works of John Ruskin (Volume 36) → online text (page 36 of 74)